Ambien is a popular sleep aid. Its availability makes many people see it as harmless. However Ambien abuse comes with serious health risks. These risks can be immediate, short term, or long term.

How Does Ambien Work?

Trouble sleepingAmbien is a tranquilizer drug. It slows activity in the central nervous system. It also alters the brain’s response to neurotransmitters that make you feel sleepy or calm. These effects make it useful as a sleep aid. They also contribute to Ambien’s health risks.

Ambien’s Immediate Health Risks

Ambien is a rapid-onset drug. This means it acts quickly to help people fall asleep. Users can feel its effects as quickly as 15 to 30 minutes after use. This also means some associated health risks can develop just as fast or faster. You are at risk for an immediate allergic reaction even if you have taken Ambien safely before. This reaction can be fatal as it involves shortness of breath, airway obstruction, severe nausea, and vomiting. Other immediate side effects include the following:

  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Aggression
  • Clumsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

The immediate risks of Ambien abuse are magnified when you take the drug with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other sedatives. These combinations can land you in the emergency room. The American Journal of Therapeutics says, “Despite its reported safely, zolpidem overdose often requires ICU admission from the emergency department, which is associated with ingestion of other pharmaceutical products or alcohol.”1 Ambien abuse can result in needing immediate, emergency medical services.

Ambien’s Short-Term Complications

Ambien abuse can cause negative side effects days or weeks after taking the drug. These effects can be physical or psychological. These types of side effects may overlap. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, regular Ambien users may experience the following:

  • Retrograde amnesia
  • Sensory distortion
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Nocturnal eating
  • Sleepwalking2

Taking more than the recommended dose of zolpidem increases your risk of short-term complications. In the days after you use the drug, you may feel sluggish, tired, confused and foggy-headed. You may feel depressed or anxious. You may have even more trouble sleeping.

Ambien and Long-Term Health Problems

People who take Ambien put their lives and health at risk. The British Medical Journal found, “Patients with prescriptions for hypnotics had approximately 4.6 times the hazard of dying over an average observation period of 2.5 years as compared to non-users.”3 Causes of death include motor vehicle accidents, respiratory problems, heart disease, suicide and some forms of cancer.

Individuals who do not face these serious issues still face dependence and addiction concerns. These issues disrupt daily life. They change how you think and feel. They also make it difficult to stop using Ambien without professional support. You may experience mental and physical withdrawal symptoms. These make it difficult to walk away from the drug. They make you feel as though you need Ambien to feel good or to simply feel normal or not bad. This is not the truth of the situation.

Recovery feels better than addiction ever will. It gives you back your life. It helps you find your health, your passions and your joy. Black Bear Lodge’s personalized treatment programs help you find complete wellness. We integrate mental, physical, and addiction health services. We help you heal on every level. If you’re ready to end the health risks of Ambien, call us today.


1 Zosel, Amy; Osterberg, Charles; Mycyk, Mark. “Zolpidem Misuse With Other Medications or Alcohol Frequently Results in Intensive Care Unit Admission.” American Journal of Therapeutics. Jul. 2011. Accessed 20 Jun. 2017.

2 Inagaki, Takuji MD; Miyaoka, Tsuyoshi MD; Tsuji, Seiichi MD; Inami, Yasushi MD; Nishida, Akira MD; Horiguchi, Jun MD. “Adverse Reactions to Zolpidem: Case Reports and a Review of the Literature.Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2010. Accessed 20 Jun. 2017.

3 Kripke, Daniel F; Langer, Robert D; Kline, Lawrence E. “Hypnotics’ Association with Mortality or Cancer: a Matched Cohort Study.” British Medical Journal. 2012. Accessed 20 Jun. 2017.